Students Take Back The Night

A few of the people who work in the Women’s Center and organized the event. McKenzie Longo, Kaycee O’Neil, Sam Gurn, Maria Marinucci, Ashley Walker, Yemi Onafowokan, Sarah Soos, Shontae Petrie, Mei Lin McElhill and Laura Miller.

By Julia Gavigan 💜 | Copy Editor

SCRANTON – A fierce wind ripped across the Dionne Green Thursday as students leapt over their tables to keep their boards, papers and stickers from flying into the Loyal Science Center. Despite the annoying weather and a biting cold, dedicated royals stood outside for hours to celebrate Take Back the Night.

The Jane Kopas Women’s Center hosted Take Back the Night, an event dedicated to raising awareness against sexual assault and violence. The event was broken up into three parts: the Pre-Rally, the march, and the Speak-Out.

The most notable part of the event are the shirts that line the Dionne Green.

Student workers of the Women’s Center started lining shirts along the Dionne Green Thursday morning. Some are new and others are decades old. The shirts belong to members of the University of Scranton who experienced sexual assault and violence.

The color of each shirt represents the type of sexual violence the owner experienced. White represents those who have died because of violence, red, pink and orange represent those have experienced rape and sexual assault, black represents those who have experienced assault for political reasons, yellow and beige represent those who have experienced battery or assault, purple and lavender represent those who have been attacked because of their sexual orientation, and blue and green represent those who have experienced incest and sexual abuse.

Gabrielle Allen, an occupational therapy major, said the shirts are a powerful representation of the severity of sexual violence.

“It’s really powerful to see all the different sizes and all the different colors and cuts because it shows how many different types of people are affected by this and it’s not just one type of person,” said Allen.

Criminal justice major Sydney Gero agreed.

“I give a lot of credit to those who made them because it takes a lot to talk about sexual assault and violence. It was a lot to take in but very important to look at,” said Gero.

The shirts fluttered around as the Women’s Center initiated the Pre-Rally at 5 p.m.

The Pre-Rally aims to be informational about sexual violence. Several tables lined the Dionne Green run by clubs that volunteered to participate in the event. Each table is dedicated to presenting information about sexual violence, promoting awareness and offering support services.

There are 21 clubs involved that include SAFE space, Social Justice club, CHSA, Counseling Girls and Women class, CHEW, Ad Club, Women’s Rugby, Student government, Chi Delta Rho, SOTA, Her Campus, American Medical Women’s Association, BSU, Multicultural Center, UCO, Women’s and Gender Studies, Women’s Resource Center, Kindness for Chemo, Office of Equity and Diversity, and Kania Women in Business.

The topics presented by the clubs include gender based violence and intimate partner violence in LGBTQ+, interpersonal violence in marginalized communities, mental health resources, red and green flags, reducing shame through self-compassion, positive advertisements depicting strong people/companies who embody what it means to stand up for yourself, resources on campus, safety in co-ed sports, creating boundaries, stopping the stigma around mental health, ableism, healthy and unhealthy relationships, positive affirmations, and educational reading materials regarding sexual assault and safety on campus.

Allen was running the center for health education and wellness (CHEW) table that focused on self-compassion. At one point she was able to walk around and look at the other tables.

“I am happy that I had a chance to walk around because this is the first year that we have had it outside since my freshman year. It’s really good to go around and see how the clubs are all connected for this one issue and people are coming out to show their support,” said Allen.

One of the other tables was run by a few students from the Counseling Women and Girls class. The table was run by Diana Lozinger’ 24, Olivia Lavoski’22, Molly Sheehan’ 22, Haylle Thomas’ 22, Madeline Devaro’22, and Megan Maguire’23.

Their table focused on misogyny and female empowerment in today’s music.

In one corner of the table were songs that empowered women and on the other side were songs that were deprecating toward women and glorified abuse. In the middle they defined music misogyny as, “the promotion, glamorization, support or normalization of oppressive attitudes and ideas about women. In these songs, women (especially women of color) are reduced to mere objects – objects that are only good for sex and abuse and are ultimately a burden to men.”

The counseling students also offered a “survivor’s voice,” section under the definition in which the Spotify links to artists like Billie Eilish, Demi Lovato, Kesha and Lady Gaga were visible to other students.

The counseling students were dedicated to ensuring that not only were people walking away with a better education on music misogyny but also a new set of songs to combat it.

“We also have songs of empowerment. This playlist talks about survivors, their stories, and any songs they have written. We also have some lollipops that you can take that have the links to the positive playlist so you can listen to it anytime and feel empowered,” said Lavoski.

The second part of the event is the March. The March is a peaceful protest against sexual violence that took place from 7 to 7:30 p.m. Those participating carried signs that embody the theme of the event, which is “Enough.”

Father Marina stood on the Dionne Patio overlooking the crowd of eager students ready to march. Marina addressed students before the march, stating how proud he was to march with them. Before they set out, he concluded the Pre-Rally with a prayer.

“We pray for the University of Scranton and all college communities across the country who are united with us in taking back the night. May their voices and ours be a powerful witness in crying out against violence, against silence, and may our marches be the sign of a very powerful solidarity,” said Marina. “May people find power in the example of Christ the Healer. May we be given the grace and the strength to go on living as marching witnesses. Witnesses who are not only against violence, but for love.”

The march was around three blocks. It started on the Dionne patio, went past Houlihan-McClean and ended at Alumni Hall behind the Estate. Students marched with purpose chanting against sexual violence.

“Yes, means yes, no means no, whatever we wear, wherever we go!” said students.

Many held up signs that were made for the event that said, “Enough is Enough,” and “We will not be quiet.”

The third part of the event is the Speak Out. This is considered the most emotional part of the event because this is an opportunity for sexual assault survivors to speak out and share their story.

Junior Mackenzie Longo works in the Women’s Center and was on the marketing committee for Take Back the Night.

Longo says that awareness against sexual violence was one of the main goals for the event.

“I feel like sexual and gender-based violence is brushed over because it is an uncomfortable topic for a lot of people but it’s something that you need to talk about to change – especially on college campuses,” said Longo. “There are a lot of things that just get swept under the rug and not spoken about so that’s why it’s really important to promote awareness, but in an educational and fun way like today.”

One by one, people were able to go up and share their experiences.

A special thanks to Director of the Jane Kopas Women’s Center Maria Marinucci, graduate assistance Ashley Walker, student coordinator of Take Back the Night, Sam Gurn, Shontae Petrie, Mackenzie Londo, Laura Miller, Kaycee O’Neil, Sarah Soos, Yemi Onafowokan, and Mei Lin McElhill for organizing an incredibly informative and moving event.

The event continued into the night as one person after another shared their story, taking that windy Thursday night and making it their own.